New Book – Pretending to Dance by Diane Chamberlain (Pages 1 – 180)


Publishing year: 2015


The novel fluctuates between 2014 and 1990. In 2014, twenty-six years after the prequel Molly is 38 and married to Aidan. Both Molly and Aidan are lawyers, and they want to adopt a child. Molly had problems to get pregnant when they first tried for a baby, and when she got pregnant, she lost her baby daughter at 20 weeks in the pregnancy and as a result, she had a hysterectomy, rendering her unable to have children.

We learn from the first that Molly keeps secrets from her husband even though they both claim that they are honest with each other. Molly has cut off all ties with her family, which is sad. After reading “The Dance Begins”, which shows a beautiful picture of family life, it is very sad to see Molly without her family. The only person she keeps in touch with is her cousin Dani, but she left North Carolina when she was eighteen and has never talked to her family since. Something terrible happened back then, and we learn that Graham died, and for some reason Molly claims her mother murdered him. Is that true? How did it happen? And why did she have to stop talking to her uncles and aunts if she only blames her mother?

In 2014 we see Aidan and Molly struggling with all the red tape involving the adoption. They want an open adoption, which means the birth parents will be involved with. Yet, Molly is not as sure as Aidan. After all the paperwork is done, two months later they have a candidate that might choose them, and Molly talks to her, but a week later she is told that the young woman has chosen to keep the baby, disappointing both Aidan and Molly.

The story in 1990 focuses on Molly and her family. She is fourteen and visibly happy. Graham is much worse than when we got to know him in “The Dance Begins” in 1982. That summer Molly befriends one of the girls in her class, Tracy, who is ahead of her in things to do with boys and sexuality. When Tracy goes to stay with Molly overnight, they spend the night in the spring house. Molly shows her around the property, and tells her about her uncles and aunts, and she also mentions Amalia, who lives on the property and teaches her to dance.

It is when they are in the spring house that Molly tells her a secret, which apparently is not such a secret, but we didn’t know till now. Suddenly, Tracy feels scared there in the spring house and wants to go to Molly’s house. Reluctantly, Molly agrees to walk back to the house, and in mid-way they find Graham and Amelia, sitting on a bench and asleep, their arms around each other. Molly then tells Tracy that her father and Amelia are looking out for them, so they shouldn’t be afraid. Tracy keeps repeating if Molly isn’t concerned that her father was hugging someone who wasn’t her mother. Then Molly blurts out that actually Amelia is her birth mother. Her dad is her dad, and Nora adopted her. According to Molly, she has always known and her family have always wanted her to have a relationship with both of her mothers. So now I wonder which mother Molly in 2014 refers to when she says she killed her father: Nora or Amelia? In 2014 she gets an email from Dani, telling her that Amelia had a fall and is in hospital, but we know that she gets Christmas cards from Nora, but she has no relationship with either of them, and she told Aidan and his family that her mother died of breast cancer. I am dying to know what happened in the past.

After Tracy questions her about her parents and Amalia, Molly realises that she knows little about what happened, so she asks her dad, who tells her the whole story. When he was young and firs in the profession, he used to work in an alternative hospital which used dancing as therapy. One of the teachers employed by the hospital was Amalia, and he fell in love with her. His family didn’t approve of her – and they still don’t – and then Graham was diagnosed with MS. Amalia disappeared overnight, which broke Graham’s heart, and then she met Nora in the hospital. They fell in love and got married. Then one day Amalia appeared with baby Molly, and they agreed she could live on the property and Nora would adopt Molly.

That summer in 1990 Trevor tries to convince her siblings they need to get involved in the land development in their land, but neither Claudia nor Graham are interested, and their mother won’t hear of it. Then Graham tells Molly that the family is going to have a meeting, and she should go to her nanny in the meantime. That day everybody is there, even Amalia and her cousin Dani, and when Russell, her father’s nurse, drives her to her nanny’s, she sees her dad’s colleagues, Janet, Peter and Peter’s wife, driving to the house. Then on her way to her grandmother’s, she wonders why on earth her father’s colleagues should go to a family meeting. I am also suspicious of that meeting. I wonder if he met all these people to talk about his condition. Molly thinks her dad is a happy soul, but her grandmother contradicts her and says he is very miserable with his life. So maybe Graham is so miserable that he met everybody who he loved, except for his daughter, to tell them about his decision to have assisted suicide. Is that why Molly in 2014 thinks her mother killed her father? Was she the one who assisted him to kill himself?

Apart from that, in 1990 Molly starts to get aware of her sexuality and has her first experiences. Tracy is the one who introduces to her world and explains things that she has no idea about. Tracy is dating an older boy, and one day when her father has to go to town to see some of her patients, Russell leaves Molly at Tracy’s. Tracy has plans, and soon her boyfriend, Bryan, and another boy, Chris, who finds Molly cute, arrive. At once Tracy and Bryan disappear into one bedroom, and Chris and Molly are left alone. The boy lights a joint, and at first, Molly refuses to join, but then she has a drag. Then they start kissing on the sofa. The moment is broken when Tracy and Bryant appear, and the four of them have popcorn. Molly tells the boys they have to go before her dad comes back to pick her up. To her dismay, Russell appears earlier, catching her with the two boys, and Russell doesn’t mince words and tells her she is too young for hanging up with boys that old. Molly begs not to tell her parents, but Russell doesn’t promise anything. But then the van won’t start, and Russell announces that he will have to use her friend’s phone, so Molly’s secret is about to be revealed.

I am loving the book. It is sad as we see the contrast between Molly and her life with her family in 1990, and her life in 2014 when she has cut off all ties with her family. I really hope that she tells Aidan the truth and he persuades her to see her family again.


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